Category Archives: Students

Rwanda

by Nora

As you may have heard, Sofia, Camille, and I have a buggy and dank room. Nonetheless, we woke up well rested and excited to start the first work day in Byumba. But, as I turned to remind Sofia to get up, I saw a twitching, dying grasshopper. Then, Camille asked me to turn around to kill a spider on our bed. It was a buggy start to the first work day at Byumba.

At the library, we quickly organized ourselves and got to work. A group of us cleaned the walls, another bought paint, and the rest helped design the pictures for the walls. As soon as the paint arrived and wet walls dried, we began to paint. Now that we have had a set of workdays under our belts, painting went much faster. We finished the main room of the library, the hallways of the library, and almost all of the outside’s painting and design.

After an accomplished day at work, Jeffrey, Ashleigh, and I decided to run back to the guest house. It was mostly downhill (the main reason we ran back and not there) and many Rwandans laughed at us running by. We arrived before the bus (with the rest of the students) arrived!

I am looking forward to another work day and run tomorrow!

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Cuba Day 6

By Miranda ’19

Today we went back to work. Our day started out by having breakfast at 8, we had pineapple, eggs, packaged toast, and bread with butter. As soon as breakfast ended we headed back to work to finish what we had started on Friday. We pulled over 16 barrels full of sand to the second floor then we bucketed them up to the third floor (the roof) where we had previously put the rocks from last week. Throughout this tiresome process we had rotations to reduce the work and to give people a break.

We ended work around 12:40 and started our nap session shortly afterwards. During our nap session we munched on my goldfish, Ike’s Milano cookies, Maddie’s pop-tarts, and Alice’s crackers. Everyone was so tired to the point where they didn’t care where they slept. Alice, Priya and I made make-shift beds out of chairs; while Maddie, JoceLynn, Annarose and Angie all slept on beach towels. Courtney, Eric, Ahmed, and Aaron all slept in their beds.

After our hour and thirty minute “nap”, we all went straight back to work but this time filling up water for the community from 2 to 5. The two men, who help us build the church, showed up a little after five to help us continue construction. This time we moved 12 long metal bars and multiple tin roof top pieces from the ground level to the first floor then immediately to the second. Lastly we formed an assembly line to move cinder blocks from the ground up to the second floor.

After we finished all of our hard work it was supposed to be time for dinner but we had time to spare so we all decided to walk 15 minutes to La Loma de La Cruz ( which is a giant hill with over 462+ steps!).

After the hike we all feasted on rice with shredded beef and green peppers. For dessert we had jello and banana cake. Following dinner, Ahmed and I played Spit, the card game (I won by the way), and JoceLynn and Maddie also played afterwards. After our games we all went upstairs and played a mini game of apples to apples followed by our meeting that occurs every night. Overall today was tiring yet fun and I can’t wait to see what is in store tomorrow.

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Rwanda

by Sofia Frascella ’19 

Today we went to the market in Kigali before we traveled to Byumba. We got to see how the Rwandans shop for crafts, crops, clothes and other items. As we were shopping we got to attempt to bargain to lower the prices and it was a great glimpse into true Rwandan culture. We had another delicious, authentic meal at a buffet in downtown Kigali. We then got on the road and traveled to our next stop; Byumba. When we arrived to the guest house, Camille, Nora and I were hit with a surprise that our triple had quite a few spiders and no mosquito nets. After about an hour of adjusting our room we finally found a solution. This was a perfect example of how these service trips do not always go as planned, but there is always a solution to the problems. Tomorrow we start our work on the local friends library. I’m excited to work more with painting and really hope we get to interact with the kids more!

See our pictures here!

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Rwanda Day 6

conflict in rwanda

by Shumpei Chosa ’19

Before we left Musanze to go back to Kigali, we stopped at a children’s library in Musanze. We donated 3 suitcases full of books, writing utensils, and soccer balls that we had collected or bought with our fundraiser money. The people at the library were very thankful with what we had brought them because so many children in Rwanda can benefit from them. It’s incredible how there are so many people and organizations trying to help children to get education. 

 

On our 2 hour bus ride back to Kigali, I was looking out the window and I was reminded of how beautiful this country is. There are endless mountains and everything is built on hills. I noticed that so many houses were built on steep hills and I was wondering how people get to those houses. 

 

Back in Kigali, we had our first day of HIPP (Help Increase Peace Program). It was our first opportunity to discuss the 1994 Genocide with local people and it was an eye-opening experience. One thing that I thought was particularly interesting was when one of the facilitators asked if conflict is a good or a bad thing, many Rwandan people thought it is a terrible thing, but many of us had the idea that it can be a good thing if it results in positive outcomes. I am looking forward to exchanging more ideas about peace and learn about the genocide from a local perspective. 

 

The highlight of my day was watching the World Cup at a local restaurant. I never thought people in Rwanda would be so passionate about soccer so I was really excited to be able to watch the Portugal vs Spain game with our guide Fiacre and many screaming local men surrounding us. Towards the end of the game, two men started arguing loudly about Messi and Ronaldo. It was the same exact argument that I have with my friends and it was really cool to see the world connect through soccer. I am excited to keep following the World Cup here in Rwanda. 

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Cuba Day 3

by Courtney Heffelfinger ’19

So today was our second full day in Cuba and it was better than the first, for me at least. Today we woke up and ate breakfast of fruits, toast, and eggs. Alice and I struggled to keep our eyes open during breakfast even though we got about 8 hours of sleep.

After breakfast we went right to work with Roxy where we were getting the gravel we moved from the ground to the second floor up from the first with our pulley system. It wasn’t so bad because I was with Priya, Alice, Maddie, and Miranda and we had our rotation system down so each of us could take breaks. Priya struggled a bit with moving the wheelbarrow full of gravel to the big pile we were making on the roof, so Jose helped her each time that it was her turn to push the barrow, saying in Spanish that she needed “one big push”. After we got all of the rocks up we moved this huge thing up from the floor the rocks were on. I literally have no idea what it was or what purpose it served, but I had to stand on bags of rice while Eric had to climb up the wall and help Jose get the thing onto the roof. We also filled buckets with sand and did the same thing that we did with the gravel. I think it was easier because the sand wasn’t as difficult to shovel up into the buckets.

After our shoveling and filling the wheelbarrow, we had a snack and watched the World Cup on the TV in the living room. Ahmed was rooting for Egypt against Uruguay but I think it ended up being a tie at zero, however I could be completely wrong because we missed the end of the game. Alice, Miranda, Sara, and Maddie washed the dishes after lunch while the rest of us continued to watch the World Cup until we started rehearsing for our dance for our Sunday service. That was a mess. We’ve been getting better at it but I think we have come to the understanding that we are all really bad at timing. Aaron has to be a grandpa in the ending scene of the dance, but when asked to walk like a grandpa, he instead walked like he was having a heart attack. He tried and eventually fixed it, because that wasn’t exactly how Leo, our choreographer, imagined the dance.

The last sort of event we had today was our first family dinner. My group was Sara, myself, Maddie, Ike, and Angie with our host Sergio and his family. We were apprehensive at first because we had just met them and only half of us knew Spanish – myself, Maddie, and Eric excluded. As we continued to talk with the family, I started to understand more and more of what the conversations were about. Our family made every effort to include us in conversation and they had the most bubbly and amazing personalities of the people I have met so far. Sergio is an artisan who makes bracelets and we found that out after he pointed to Maddie’s bracelet she got yesterday in the shopping plaza and said he makes them. He elaborated on how he works and what he does saying that he uses cow bone to make certain parts of the bracelets and then makes a certain design with the string and puts it all together. He asked us all what our favorite colors were and at the end of dinner gave us all bracelets that he had made. We walked all the way back home from his house which took nearly and hour but I’d say it was worth it. Today was actually such a good day and if I could spend all of my time walking around Holguin like we did, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to do it forever.

-Courtney Heffelfinger 🙂

p.s. Mom and Dad, we got my luggage and I’m happy as a clam. Thanks Pops.

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Arizona Day 4

by Anney ’20

Thursday night was the last night we spent with our host families. In the evening, we and our host families all had dinner together, talking and sharing with each other the experiences we’ve had. Although it has only been four days, we all felt a sense of belonging to this big family. 

After dinner, each of us got to spend some time with our host families. Mel and I were hosted by Adrienne, and as we talked, she showed us pictures of students from previous service trips. I found it beautiful how members of George School from different times are all connected by this Arizona service trip.

After departing from the host families Friday morning, we spend Friday afternoon hiking at the Grand Canyon, 1.5 miles down the Bright Angel Trail. We were astonished by the terrific landscape of the Grand Canyon, as well as the animals we saw along the way, such as elks and mountain goats. Although the hike was tiring, it was a delightful and memorable experience.

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Arizona Day 1

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by Charlie ’19

Over the past four days, we’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the kids in Kayenta. We’ve helped them in their classes, through lunch and recess, and getting on the busses to go home. Today we organized a field day for their last day of summer school. There were many relays, games, and a water station so that they could cool down and keep hydrated. They seemed to really enjoy playing with us and I loved cheering them on when the succeeded (especially when they were afraid to make mistakes. They are not only adorable, but their unabashed excitement and friendliness has warmed our hearts. There were some tears today when we had to leave (from both us and them), but a few of us made plans to be pen-pals in the upcoming year.

Fiona, Mitch, and I have been staying with Lena, who helped organize our trip and works at the school. She has been so caring and warm towards us, and her very young and incredibly cute granddaughter comes in almost every night to make sure that we are ok and that we know to take our shoes off. Although we haven’t spent much time there, we all got a chance to talk with her and she told us about her parents.

We also have visited and hiked in various parts of the reservation, including Canyon de Chelly and along the toes (rocks shaped like toes just outside of Kayenta). We visited Monument Valley and purchased traditional jewelry and ornaments. It’s been incredible to be so immersed in the Navajo culture and experience the kindness of everyone here. It’s saddening that we don’t get to spend more time here, but we are excited to continue with our journey to Page and Flagstaff.

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A Comprehensive Guide to GS Food

Michelle Tyson '18

by Michelle Tyson ’18

Let’s be honest: the two biggest priorities of any self-respecting teenager is sleep and food. I know that before coming to George School as a boarder, I spent many a restless night wondering about food at boarding school. Would I be a starved, grey-eyed young Oliver Twist holding up a ceramic bowl, begging for oatmeal gruel? (No.) However–I admit, I was the pickiest eater imaginable. But as I write this, I’m forking Greek-style lamb ragout with sweet potato mac-n-cheese into my mouth. Chock full of ground lamb, cherry tomatoes, sweet potato, feta cheese: all things I abhorred before coming to George School. I can tell you with full confidence that you will leave George School liking twice as many foods as when you came in.

Some tips about the dining hall here: don’t enter with a backpack. Move quickly. Don’t drop plates, (you will garner a loud applause from everyone around you.) Dispense ice before you pour your drink. And most importantly: EAT YOUR VEGETABLES!

George School dining is multifaceted. Meals feature international flavors, and are varied day by day. I suggest eyeing our daily menus for a preview. In addition to meals, you will see on-order omelet stations, fruit smoothie stations, crepe bars, gourmet organic fusions of classic dishes, waffle makers, fresh-squeezed orange juice presses, sushi bars, the panini press, fruit bars, ice cream stations, pizza days, taco days, noodle bowl days, the ever-present dinner stir fry station, et cetera ad infinitum. And, just so you are in the know, every dorm is equipped with a kitchen. Communal cooking is a bonding experience not foreign to boarders.

For even more options, we have Bettye’s and the Bookstore on campus. Bettye’s sells typical cafe/bistro fare, from popcorn chicken and paninis to apple crisp and fresh banana bread. The bookstore, on the other hand, offers grab-and-go snacks and drinks. Throughout campus, there are vending machines available. Across the street from GS (3 minute walk) is a Giant, Rite-Aid, Pizza Hut, and Subway. Further off in Newtown, (15 minute walk) there are many more food options, including a Starbucks where I have spent many hours talking about life with my advisor, Terry Culleton. My recommendations are Osaka, Sandwich Club, Newton’s, and the iconic Zebra-Striped Whale for ice cream.

In short, George School food is not only good, it is ever-improving. Kitchen staff field recommendations from anyone. And if there is a dish you will miss while you’re away from home, tell the chef. I can’t promise it will taste exactly like how your mother made it. But I can promise that GS dining staff will hit the mark pretty darn close.

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Exam Week Stress–how to deal

103-Greg Levy

by Greg Levy ’18

Exam Week: two words that strike fear into the hearts of students all over the world. At George School, these words hold a similar domain, but fret not! While exams are very important and should definitely be taken seriously, they’re by no means “the worst”.

Organization is key to a lower stress exam week (let’s be real, stress will be there regardless). To keep yourself from being overwhelmed, you’ll need to use your time wisely, and make specific study goals along the way, i.e. doing half of your math review worksheet on Saturday and the other half on Sunday or reviewing a different Act of Hamlet each night. Spreading out your studying can also help make sure your brain doesn’t get overworked in a specific area; if you study all your math at once, you may become burnt out and not be up to continuing your studies.

It’s also really important to utilize Study Weekend to the fullest, as it’s the weekend leading into exam week and, as such, you’ll have no homework other than to study. Be strategic about how you approach your subjects, and make sure you’re sufficiently prepared for any review sessions your teachers may be holding. And definitely remember that you can study during the week as well! If your science class doesn’t have a review session and the exam is on Wednesday, you don’t need to cram all your studying into Study Weekend itself- that time would likely be better spent on a different topic.

During the week, there are also tons of different avenues you can pursue for relieving stress. There’s of course still time to relax with friends and cleanse yourself of the excess of stress that’s likely built up. My personal favorite part of the week- yes, I do have a favorite part of exam week that isn’t the end of it- is lunchtime when therapy dogs are brought in. Amanda Acutt, our school counselor, helps bring in 4-5 dogs per afternoon that are there for us to pet, rub, and scratch. And this happens during all three exam weeks for most of the individual days, so you get your full share of adorable dogs.

Exam week is a mountain to overcome, but it’s no Everest (maybe a K2 though).

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Art, Art, Art

349-Maisy Cadwallader

by Maisy Cadwallader ’20

I love the arts. Everything from sculpture to the theater to doodling on paper. Back in my hometown my school offered one art class every year where we would learn the basics. I would learn the same color wheels every year and to be honest it got a bit boring and I was ready to try something new. My main interest was painting and drawing and when I was about 11 years old my Dad renovated the computer room into an art room and I would sit at the art table for hours on end. At the end of the day I would go to bed covered in paint and glue, but still get up the next day and start again.

Coming from a school that didn’t have a wide variety and perspective on arts I was excited to see the list George School had to offer. I looked up and down the list for the painting and drawing box and immediately checked it off as my number one!

In class the first day when my teacher mentioned that the year would be about learning the basics of art and how to apply them, I fell into grump. I didn’t want to learn them again! As the year went by I noticed that we weren’t only being taught them but also how to use them, not just what they were. Painting and drawing quickly became my favorite class and I looked forward to it every day. The projects got more and more complex and interesting and creativity was welcomed. As a result of a great first year in the class I decided I would take it again.

This year has been even better. Since we have the skills needed to create a piece of thoughtful work we are doing more projects that let us decide the story it tells. We just started a new collage project that incorporates pictures and paint. To do this we are to use one figure, one scenery and, one object. With just this as the base for the project I am interested in seeing what I come up with! So far painting and drawing has never ceased to surprise me and teach me new things. I am happy to say I still love the arts!

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